The concept of a Christmas cracker might not be universal but its pretty fun.
The basics are that each person gets a cracker... which is traditionally a big sweet shaped present which is broken into by pulling between two people. This provides fun and merriment in the form of a paper hat, a terrible joke and a gift (the gift could be terrible or sometimes can be pretty good... normally depending on how much someone spent on the crackers)
This year I am trying to make as much as I can so I have made a bunch of these... I also sold one or two and the money is going to this Charity www.happa.org.uk
Also I made a video :D
Step 1: Pick and Cut Your Wood
I am lucky enough to have some amazing burl oak in slabs. Not everyone has access to highly figured woods, don't worry its not a deal breaker.
Find woods which you think look good together and cut blanks.
Blanks are in this case squared off peaces of wood which can be used in the lathe (you can have bowl blanks which are circular but for a small item I think square is easy enough).
Your blank width is determined by the drill bits you have access to. I think I used a 16mm drill bit so sized my blank to allow for a wall of around 2mm (which means you're turning to around 20mm)
Step 2: Find Your Center
I find the center, or an approximate center, by drawing lines between each corner and then making an indent at the place where the lines intersect (X marks the spot!).
The indentation allows me to place the blank between centers on the lathe more easily.
Step 3: Make It Round So You Can Hold It Easily and Accurately
When working with burl its a good idea to use sharp tools. Its a good idea to turn with sharp tools when ever you turn but when turning burl to avoid tear out its a great idea to use the sharpest tools.
I turned the blank to a cylinder and held it in the pin jaws.
Step 4: Drill It and Stabilize
I used a Jacobs chuck to hold a drill bit in the tail stock and introduced it to the wood.
The burl I was using had a few unstable areas. I stabilized this using CA / super glue.
Step 5: Turn an Part
Turn a tenon on the burl before parting it. I parted using an oval skew because it cuts a little cleaner than a standard parting tool. (if you are doing this make sure to cut some clearance for your tool or you will risk friction and damage to your tool)
Step 6: Cut the Box Mortise
The word mortise might not be the right one here but the lip where the tenon fits.
I cut this with a small skew and offered up the tenon part of the box from time to time to help inform where to cut.
I pulled the tail stock in which let me use a skew to smooth everything out and before parting out the whole central part of the cracker.
Step 7: Make the End Parts
I used the skew point to make a wedge shape at the end of the cracker and then parted it off. This step is a x2 part (do this twice)
Step 8: The Walnut Parts or the Crinkly Bits
I turned the walnut blank to round and held it in my pin jaws.
I turned the end of the blank to a point and offered up a bit of wood which I had drilled with the same drill bit I used earlier. This burnt a line at approximately the size I need to make the tenon.
I turned to this line before offering the end part of the cracker and turning until I had a perfect fit.
Step 9: Turn the Crinkly Bit
I glued the burl to the walnut tenon and then turned the walnut to the same thickness as the burl parts I had already turned.
I then turned a 'V' groove into the walnut and a tenon before parting the crinkle part off.
Step 10: Glue It Up an Give It a Bit of a Sand
I used CA glue a lot during this project not just as a glue to hold it together but also as a finish.
It is a good thing to remember that the middle part needs to stay without being glued together.
Glue the ends and the non tenon parts of the box then sand everything down. I covered each half of the cracker in CA glue and sanded to around 1000 grit.
Step 11: Burnish to Make It Really Pop
I put the whole thing together and used burnishing cream to make it really shine.
I used blue paper to burnish and this left streaks. When I went back to white kitchen towel the streak problem went away. (I would recommend not using rags for this especially when the lathe is on as it could catch and become dangerous)
This is the last step so I went upstairs and showed my dad. He has pretty impressed with it which is always good.
Now I need to make some really small things to go inside of my little wooden Christmas crackers as well as hats and terrible jokes.
Step 12: Links and Things
After this instructable had been live for two days a number of people got in contact with me to see if they could buy a cracker.
I have very limited experience putting a price to my work so have created a little questionnaire to help work out what I should do next.
If you are looking into starting wood turning I created a quick primer explaining some of the tools your likely to want to start with
I have started a little blog which isn't all about how to's but if you like the wooden Christmas cracker you might like this
Health and safety wise.. Please be safe I highly recommend wearing a face shield when turning and a dust mask when producing fine particles.